NORDP 2018 Conference Notes: Plenary: Diversity Panel – Inclusive Excellence and the Research Enterprise: The Role of Research Development Professionals


  • Kyle Lewis, University of California Santa Barbara
  • Beth Mitchneck, University of Massachusetts Lowell
  • Roland Owens, Office of Intramural Research, NIH
  • Barbara Endemaño Walker (Moderator), University of California Santa Barbara

Thanks to our session scribe, Don Takehara, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign!

Key points from the session. We learned:

  1. Why is diversity important for science? The literature shows that diverse teams produce better science and create more publications. Women have been shown to be highly collaborative on teams. In the same vein, having a diverse team creates stronger cultural competence which allows for a wider dissemination of the results.
  2. How can research development professionals engage diverse faculty? The presenters encouraged RD professionals to be proactive in attracting, recruiting, and retaining diverse teams. They also suggested the benefits of attending an anti-bias workshop. A recommended book was Why So Slow? by Virginia Valian.
  3. How can diverse faculty be retained? Attracting, recruiting, and retaining a diverse faculty needs to be considered simultaneously. If a faculty member feels isolated, they will be less likely to stay. The question, “Is she/he ready to be a full professor?” needs to be treated with objectivity and not subjectivity. Additionally, mentoring is important at every step when retaining faculty.
  4. What else can RD professionals do? The presenters argued that when RD professionals engage directly with diverse faculty, it makes a difference. Institutional transformation is often necessary, and it is also important to be informed of your institution’s data and trends in this area. Another resource to consider is NSF’s ADVANCE program.

What did you hear at this presentation that surprised you?

There is extensive literature on the benefits of diversity that RD professionals should seek out and consider when approaching their work.

What resources did you discover at this presentation?

The panel members may create a suggested reading list based on the topics discussed in this session.

What was the most interesting question asked by an audience member, and what was the presenter(s) response?

An audience member asked how the use of mentors might be more effective. The presenters explained the importance of choosing mentors carefully, providing mentors with appropriate training, and considering a faculty member’s interest and ability to serve as a mentor throughout their careers.

What else from this session should NORDP members know?

RD professionals can make a difference in encouraging diversity both within team science and their universities as a whole. It is important for RD professionals to be educated on these issues, and also to help communicate their importance to decision makers.



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